Leonidas - the importance of value driven leadership

  • MU Consumer Call recap

By Florian Schmitz

Creating moments of happiness for all - that is the goal of Leonidas, the favourite chocolate brand of the Belgians. Leonidas is a mid-cap company with a strong brand and international presence through a franchise system. Philippe De Selliers, CEO of Leonidas, makes sure that the mission and values of Leonidas are lived day to day in every part of the organisation from top management to every store employee.

Joining the consumer call on 23/06 Philippe explained how selecting the right company values can create a high performing organisation in combination with an engaged workforce. The past six years included various troublesome periods (covid, war in Ukraine, rising prices). Placing values at the core of his strategy combined with a passion for the product he has guided Leonidas to their highest turnover ever and increasing profit. 

In his keynote, Philippe gave a glimpse into his trajectory as CEO of Leonidas. How he gained an understanding of the unique culture in the organisation and how he placed a new mission and vision at the core. When he arrived in 2017, Philippe insisted to do a 1on1 with at least 70 people. He believes that a company is the sum of its talents, people make the difference. He asked them about company strengths, weaknesses and what they would change if they were CEO. He met people across all levels from shop employees to people in the board.  This led to a clear plan, putting the company’s strength in the focus, arriving at a new mission and vision: Create moments of happiness for all. 

It was not a complete overhaul of the old values, but they needed to be alive at every level of the organisation.

“A good value should be understood by every worker. If you don’t live it, don’t do it.”

Philippe made sure that the values and mission drive decision making at all levels, even if it means to let business opportunities pass. For example, creating moments of happiness for all is the sole reason Leonidas is not sold in supermarkets.

“In our stores all senses must be exited. You cannot create the same moment of happiness in the supermarket.” 

Furthermore, following the mission helped to stay agile and successful during the crisis. Just like other firms, Leonidas was confronted with strong inflation and rising food prices. But even in times of crisis, Philipe decided to stay true to the company values rather than prioritizing profit.

“We cannot create moments of happiness for everyone if we keep increasing prices.”

They decided to take a leap of faith, keeping prices as low as possible and accepting decreasing margins. This was only possible because of the long-term vision and wishing to serve as many customers as possible. Their faith in the consumer was rewarded by a higher turnover. Profits stayed the same because consumers found their moment of happiness with Leonidas. Philipe concluded with a strong statement to base your decisions on your values. Placing values at the heart of the organisation has allowed Leonidas to flourish even in times of crisis.

If you are interested in the MU Consumer Call and you want to use the opportunity to present your best practice case to a broader international audience, please reach out to your trusted MU consultant or directly to Florian Schmitz, Practice Lead MU Consumer Practice.